Many people are baffled when they meet Emma and hear her speak. Their confusion increases when they read things she has written, like ‘this‘, ‘this‘ and ‘this‘. How is this possible? How is it that someone like my daughter can speak, but not accurately answer the question, “how old are you?” Yet, hand her a laminated number board and she has no problem pointing to the number one, followed by the number two. Give Emma a laptop computer and she will be able to type in the password, as well as type the name of an artist to find her favorite youtube videos, but ask her what she thinks about the Emily Dickinson poem #656 that begins with “I started Early – Took my Dog – And visited the Sea” and she will say nothing in response. Yet, when I hold her qwerty keyboard that’s connected to her iPad, she immediately wrote, “You taste the ocean, but feel man’s pursuit.”
Emma wrote, “I can tell my totally impish body – Can you please sit still – and then it will do something different.” Is this similar to the thoughts and ideas that she is able to write, but cannot speak?
In Soma Mukhopadhyay‘s newest book, Developing Motor Skills for Autism using Rapid Prompting Method she writes, “Autism is not just difficulty in verbal interaction; it is also difficulty in tactile as well as kinesthetic interaction…” “Because of that, an Autistic person may not be able to adapt to new clothes, eat new food, or learn new movements, even though he may have perfect understanding about them.” My copy arrived the day before Emma and I got on the airplane to come back out to Texas for another of Soma’s four-day camps. I’ve been reading it whenever I have time, and highly recommend it.
One of the things Emma loves doing while out here is to have a skill building session with the lovely Rebecca Cooper every day after her last session with Soma. Rebecca uses the techniques Soma describes in her new book. So, for example, yesterday Rebecca showed Emma how to draw with a colored pencil several boxes, one dark, one light, demonstrating the difference in pressure to obtain such variations and then went on to discuss how light causes shadows. They then drew a picture of a tree with the sun shining to its left, casting a shadow on the ground and along the right side of the tree’s trunk and branches.
As Soma writes, “The idea of writing this book came from a necessity. Working with my own son Tito, I realized how his mind and body were disconnected. As a parent I had two choices – support his physical needs throughout his life or try to do something about it so that his hands that flapped to stimulate kinesthetically also knew how to soap himself in the shower, clean himself, make his bed, fold his own sheets, and assist his thoughts to handwrite independently.”